According to the Washington Post, the suspect, Scott Roeder, had alleged ties to the violent group Operation Rescue, admired the Army of God’s “Defensive Action Statement” and was, by all appearances, a ticking time-bomb for something like this to happen:
Fellow abortion opponents described Roeder as a foot soldier convinced that killing an abortion doctor is not a crime because it saves the lives of unborn children. In a 2007 Internet posting, a person identifying himself as "Scott Roeder" said Tiller is "the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped."
If this sort of language doesn’t frighten you, I’m not sure what would. And if Dr. Tiller’s murder doesn’t appall you, then I would challenge you: is your “Pro-Life” position a matter of conviction, or one of convenience?
Christians have no grounds for taking such action; quite the contrary. Albert Mohler stated it clearly and well:
In the case of Dr. George Tiller, the governing authorities failed again and again to fulfill their responsibility to protect all citizens, including those yet unborn. The law is dishonoring to God in its disrespect for human life. The law failed to bring George Tiller to account for what should have been seen as crimes against humanity. But this failure does not authorize others to act in the place of the government, much less in the place of God. The government must now act to prosecute and punish the murderer of Dr. George Tiller.
Misunderstanding what it really means to be “Pro-Life” leads us here, to this place, where those who claim to be acting on behalf of God and who coldly and confidently take the lives of others are regarded as the consistent ones.
Mr. Roeder claims to be acting on his Pro-Life convictions in murdering Dr. Tiller; yet, the leading Pro-Life organizations uniformly have denounced Mr. Roeder’s actions (ref: American Life League, National Right to Life, Americans United for Life). Indeed, so are major leaders in the church, like Dr. Mohler.
And yet, the mainstream media concludes that this is damning evidence of our inconsistency:
[These denunciations] don't square with what these organizations purport to espouse: a strict moral equation between the unborn and the born. If a doctor in Kansas were butchering hundreds of old or disabled people, and legal authorities failed to intervene, I doubt most members of the National Right to Life Committee would stand by waiting for "educational and legislative activities" to stop him. Somebody would use force.The reason these pro-life groups have held their fire, both rhetorically and literally, is that they don't really equate fetuses with old or disabled people. They oppose abortion, as most of us do. But they don't treat abortionists the way they'd treat mass murderers of the old or disabled. And this self-restraint can't simply be chalked up to nonviolence or respect for the law. Look up the bills these organizations have written, pushed, or passed to restrict abortions. I challenge you to find a single bill that treats a woman who procures an abortion as a murderer. They don't even propose that she go to jail. [Slate magazine: http://www.slate.com/id/2219537/?from=rss]
The problem is that 99% of what comes out of the church as “Pro-Life” statements is really simply “Anti-Abortion” noise. Most Christians don’t really know what it means to be Pro-Life in a consistent, worldview-driven way.
This is why church-goers are more supportive of torture than non-church-goers.
This is why so many Christians who heard about Dr. Tiller’s murder released a sigh of relief instead of a groan of grief.
Beloved, we MUST take up the reconsideration of what the idea of “LIFE” in our alleged “Pro-Life” position means. Ask yourself if being “Pro-Life” has anything to do with your views on any of the following topics:
- Government-supported healthcare for the poor
- Infertility treatments
- The death penalty
- Care for unwed/teenage mothers
- Domestic violence
- War and peace
- Care for the elderly
- Use of contraception
- Treatment of prisoners (domestic and foreign)
- Pre-marital sex
- Love and dignity for neighbor
- Criminal justice
Don’t feel too bad; very few Christians in our culture have even begun to think about this, let alone come to any conclusions. But when the conclusions come, it almost always looks like something completely different from the actions taken by Scott Roeder. But think about what it would look like if much-- or even most-- of the church learned this sort of consistency? It would transform our culture.
Otherwise, we’re stuck with what we have today. And that’s a sad state of affairs.
More on Tiller, Roeder, and this issue:
- From Ignatius Press: Suspect arrested in Tiller slaying
- From Robert P. George: Gravely Wicked
- From the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life: Killing the Killer Was a Blow to Pro-Lifers
- From James Grant: Vengeance Is Not in Our Hands
- From William Saletan, The NY Times: This Is the Way the Culture Wars End